Yah. People who were very good friends sometimes used that word instead of calling each other by their names.
‘That’s why it’s even weirder,’ Seo Jun-Ho thought.
He and the Sword Saint weren’t really that close yet. Of course, there was a time on the 4th Floor when they became friendly to the extent that they started speaking casually with each other. However, it was in a timeline that no longer existed.
‘So, this Woo-Joong should be speaking formally to me, or in that weird way…’
Kim Woo-Joong would even use a strange manner of speech sometimes, like when he asked Seo Jun-Ho back then. “Have you eaten? yo?”
Seo Jun-Ho and Kim Woo-Joong stared at each other blankly.
Skaya couldn’t bear to watch. “Why are they so awkward and antsy?”
“I agree with your words. This is a very rare occurrence.”
“Huh? It’s my pretty little queen! Aw, you agree with your unnie? Look at you~”
“G-Go away! Just because I agree with you does not mean I wish to get close to you! You are not my ‘unnie’ either!”
Even when it started to grow noisy around the two men, they continued staring at each other without blinking.
Kim Woo-Joong seemed like he finally realized something as he said, “By chance, did I do something wrong? yo?”
There we go…
“Well, that’s not it… Could you wait for a second? There’s something I’d like to check.” He smiled at Kim Woo-Joong when he saw how nervous the latter was.
He closed his eyes. ‘Seo Jun-Sik. Tell me where you are.’
‘W-Why are you looking for me? What is it?’ Seo Jun-Sik’s voice sounded small and frantic. He sounded like a kid who had just been caught going to a PC bang after he told his mom that he was going to study.
‘Come here. Now.’
‘...What if I say no?’
‘You won’t get a sushi exchange coupon for two years.’
‘Look at that! You said you’d give it to me! Geez, you’re making me so sad. And p.i.s.sed.’ Seo Jun-Sik’s voice was full of emotion and defiance. ‘Oh, I’m just that unfair and petty, aren’t I?!’
‘So, you’re not gonna come?’
‘Ugh! Just give me a second!’
Look at that, so obedient. Maybe it was because he was a clone...
Seo Jun-Ho gently opened his eyes and saw a large throng of people. In front of them was a man who was leading them like the pied piper.
“Wow, look at you, you big shot.” It was Seo Jun-Sik. He looked annoyed by all the people gathering around him like clouds. “Hey, back off a bit. I’m a busy man. I’m telling you, I need to go because that d.a.m.ned Original called me.”
“What? A date? Are you gonna take me to a j.a.panese restaurant? Oh, a musical? No thanks.”
“I’m not even Seo Jun-Ho. I’m Seo Jun-Sik. It’s a name that cost 58,000 won at the fortune-teller’s shop in Myungdong.”
People were still crowding around him. For some reason, it seemed like he was attracting more people than his Original.
“Ooh! What’s that? Jun-Ho! Someone who looks exactly like you is coming here,” Skaya mused.
“Hm. The energy I sense from his is much weaker than Jun-Ho’s, though,” Rahmadat said.
“His personality seems different as well. Jun-Ho isn’t that laid-back,” Gilberto commented.
“Two Jun-Ho’s… Am I dreaming?” Cha Si-Eun asked out loud.
This was their first time seeing Seo Jun-Sik. His friends stared alternatingly between the two of them with wide eyes.
Skaya thoroughly inspected Seo Jun-Sik with scholarly curiosity alight in her eyes as she asked, “Is this a doppelganger?”
“Hey, even if you’re the one saying it, I’ll feel bad if you compare me to such a lowly monster,” Seo Jun-Sik said, pouting. He put an arm around Seo Jun-Ho’s shoulder. “I’m this guy’s one and only clone. My name is Seo Jun-Sik.”
Everyone looked at Seo Jun-Ho for an answer.
“I just happened to learn that kind of skill,” he said, looking disgusted by Seo Jun-Sik.
“I’m jealous. If I could make a clone like you, I’d be able to research magic twice as fast.”
“A clone, you say? It has always been a childhood dream of mine to have one.”
“On top of that, he seems intelligent, rather than just being a mere physical copy. He can speak all on his own, too.” Cha Si-Eun pointed out.
“Smart, my a.s.s!” If Seo Jun-Sik were smart, then the whole world was filled with scholars.
Seo Jun-Ho let out a small sigh. He pushed Seo Jun-Sik toward Kim Woo-Joong and asked the latter, “By chance, did you encounter this guy?”
“...” Kim Woo-Joong froze like a broken robot.
Seo Jun-Sik waved his hand. “Yah, we meet again.”
“I knew it was you!” Seo Jun-Ho grabbed him by the shoulders and started shaking him around.
“Urp, you’re making me diz—Ugh!” Seo Jun-Sik yelled. His eyes were br.i.m.m.i.n.g with tears at this point. “Hey! What did I do wrong?! You wanted to start speaking casually to him, too!”
“Hey, that’s my decision to make.”
“...Geez, I was helping you because it was getting annoying!”
Sulking, Seo Jun-Sik melted into the peoples’ shadows.
“I see.” Kim Woo-Joong slowly nodded. He finally understood. He finally understood where the understanding started and what he did wrong.
“Please forgive me for being rude,” he apologized, straight to the point.
“No, you have nothing to apologize for…” Seo Jun-Ho slapped his forehead. Just look at this. The Sword Saint probably felt bitter for having to apologize in front of so many people.
‘It can’t be helped.’ Seo Jun-Ho made a decision. He scratched the back of his head and said, “This is kind of ridiculous, so it would be a little embarra.s.sing to go back to the main question, right?”
“What do you mean?” Kim Woo-Joong slowly lifted his head.
Seo Jun-Ho looked a little self-conscious as he muttered, “...Yah, you were pretty good out there, too.”
Kim Woo-Joong finally smiled with relief or perhaps satisfaction.
After the healers were done treating the injured, the rest of the Players started relaxing on their own.
As Seo Jun-Ho watched them do whatever they wanted, Shin Sung-Hyun approached him.
“What is our next course of action?” asked Shin Sung-Hyun.
The next course of action? The answer was simple. After seeing the Players’ pa.s.sion and determination, Seo Jun-Ho decided that he would no longer treat them like children.
“We’ll end it,” he said, turning toward Shin Sung-Hyun. “I won’t go down until we kill that monster, Namgung Jincheon.”
“I understand. You’re worried for the civilians as well,” Shin Sung-Hyun said, nodding in agreement. Suddenly, he blinked. ‘Huh? Gold light?’
Specks of brilliant golden light started clumping and falling from the sky like snow. The Players started looking up one by one, entranced by the light's beauty and holiness.
- Partner! Behind you! An enemy!
Seo Jun-Ho’s blood turned cold. It was all because he didn’t notice anything until Keen Intuition warned him.
“What an entertaining conversation.”
A familiar voice reached his ears. It came from the robot that suddenly appeared before his eyes.
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“W-What is this?!”
It was a martial art technique that strengthened one’s body to its peak, and it would enable anyone to withstand any attack.
“You gave me such a pleasant surprise, so allow me to give you a piece of advice.”
There wasn’t a single scratch left on his body.
All of a sudden, Namgung Jincheon’s arm split open.
In the blink of an eye, smoke emerged from it and filled the air.
“You should observe your opponent first before you strike.”
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The approaching Players stumbled backward while vomiting blood. They gripped their chests as they started to feel as if their bodies were burning. Their faces started turning black and blue.
“This is the Sichuan Sect’s Fivefold Life-Draining Poison. It is a substance made of five of the deadliest poisons.”
“Healers! Heal the afflicted! Hurry up!”
“Fufu, I told you. It’s made of five of the deadliest poisons,” Namgung Jincheon said with confidence.
The healers who were dispatched grew pale and shook their heads.
The attackers had been a group of Players who were the finest of their guilds.
But they actually died in less than ten seconds after being poisoned? And in such a futile way at that?
The Players’ shoulders grew heavy as great hopelessness set in.
They just couldn’t believe it...
They were good people. They fought for a cause, and they never wavered in the face of death just to defend their beliefs. Visionaries like them were difficult to find in this day and age.
If there was a G.o.d, Seo Jun-Ho wanted to ask them. He wanted to ask them why they had to take these Players away so soon. He wanted to ask why they couldn’t at least wait until the enemy was defeated.
The Players had been talking and laughing just a few minutes ago, but their corpses were now piling up in front of him.
“Tsk, tsk. You were wrong, too.” Namgung Jincheon watched as the Players despaired. “Your attachment to mercy, loyalty, and all those personal feelings. Those emotions are what’s holding you back from ascending.”
“...” Seo Jun-Ho looked at him with cold pity. “And yet you’re still stuck in a tin can seven hundred years after throwing them all away.”
“Curse you! It is not a tin can!” Namgung Jincheon yelled. He lifted his golden hands as if he was going to hold up the sky.
“This body of mine is unbreakable and sacred. My heart has also ascended to become divine, and I pray that each of my actions will be remembered as that of a G.o.d’s…” he whispered to himself, looking heavily intoxicated on something.
“I will be the Martial G.o.d.”
[You have discovered the boss monster of the Neo City area, Martial G.o.d Namgung Jincheon.]
[Once defeated, safe zones will appear on Neo City.]
1. Seo Jun-Ho speaks formally to him. ☜
2. He’s speaking formally now. ☜
3. Can be read either as long laughs or as sniffling sounds. ☜
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